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    #1

    Double negative

    Hello,

    I would like to ask if it is possible to say: "I was not rich enough not to go to work".

    Thank you for your time

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    #2

    Re: Double negative

    Welcome to the forum.

    Yes, it is certainly possible to say that.

    What do you think it means?

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    #3

    Re: Double negative

    Is it possible even in formal language? I think it means " I am not so rich so i must have a job" I thought that there couldn't be a single sentence with two negatives in formal English.

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Double negative

    In formal English we do not use a double negative with a single negative meaning. So, I haven't never been rich is sub-standard if the speaker means I have never been rich.
    Last edited by Piscean; 24-Aug-2015 at 22:47. Reason: typo

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    #5

    Re: Double negative

    so there are more cases where we can use double negative in one sentence in formal english?

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Double negative

    Your original was not a double negative.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Double negative

    One could say "I did not say I didn't see him.
    "I did not ask him not to go."

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Double negative

    I think that we generally find other ways to express a negation of a negative statement in more formal language. For example, while the first sentence below is grammatically correct, we would probably express the thought more formally in one of the other ways I have suggested.

    We cannot not allow these people to enter.

    It is impossible for us not to allow these people to enter.
    We cannot refuse to let these people enter.
    It is impossible / not possible for us to refuse to let these people enter.

    I would express the idea of your sentence, I was not rich enough not to go to work, as I was not rich enough to be able to give up work.

    In informal conversation I might well say I can't not go to his party. In more formal speech or in writing, my words would be I can't/cannot refuse to go to his party. or I cannot decline the invitation to his party

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